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EDITORIAL: Voters don't want a fall election

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Amid rampant speculation Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is about to call a federal election, it’s interesting that a Nanos/CTV poll released last week found most Canadians don’t want one.

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Only 26% of those surveyed were enthusiastic about a fall election.

A significantly larger group — 37% — were opposed, while 34% were neutral.

The findings are not surprising given that people have other priorities these days than politics, such as getting their lives back to a sense of normalcy after 16 months of COVID-19 lockdowns.

Despite that, we expect Trudeau to pull the plug on Canada’s current Parliament next month leading up to a September vote.

First, public opinion polls show he’s in the lead over the opposition parties.

Second, he’s criss-crossing the country handing out billions of taxpayer dollars in pre-election promises — the tried, true and cynical method by which incumbent governments try to bribe voters with their own money.

Third, provincial governments calling elections during the pandemic have done well.

In B.C., the then minority NDP government won a majority victory in October 2020.

The same thing happened in Newfoundland and Labrador where, despite weeks of election turmoil caused by the pandemic, the Liberals were elevated from a minority government to a slim majority in March this year.

That said, calling an election voters don’t want, or consider unnecessary, is always a gamble.

It worked for then Liberal prime minister Jean Chretien in 2000, when he was returned to power with a third straight majority government after calling an election just three years after his previous victory in 1997, despite many people viewing it as unnecessary.

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On the other hand, it was a political disaster for then Ontario Liberal premier David Peterson, when he called an election in 1990 that many voters considered opportunistic, after having given him a majority government in 1987.

Instead of an expected cakewalk to victory for Peterson in 1990, then Ontario NDP leader Bob Rae won a majority government.

Finally, Trudeau and the Liberals, will only consider the next federal election a victory if they recapture the majority government they lost in the October 2019 election.

Anything less than that will raise questions about why Trudeau bothered to call the vote in the first place.

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